Azerbaijan detains opposition journalist

Interior Ministry refused to reveal further details on the cause of his arrest

Azerbaijan detains opposition journalist

World Bulletin / News Desk

Azerbaijan on Friday jailed an opposition journalist who was detained in murky circumstances, his lawyer said, prompting concerns for his safety amid growing pressure on media.

Shirin Abbasov, 19, who works for pro-opposition Meydan TV Internet-based broadcaster, "has been arrested for 30 days on charges of resisting police," his lawyer Elchin Sadikhov told AFP.

He said that Abbasov went missing on Wednesday and his family and colleagues were unaware of his whereabouts.

The Interior Ministry "refused to reveal further details on the cause of his arrest," Sadikhov said. "I was not allowed to meet my client in custody."

"We believe that Abbasov is being prosecuted due to his work for a pro-opposition media outlet," the lawyer added.

Reporters Without Borders said in a statement it was "extremely concerned" about the young man, calling Meydan TV a "government target". 

"We believe that Abbasov is in danger and we demand his immediate release," said Johann Bihr, head of the media watchdog's Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.

Meydan TV is a Berlin-based online TV station that covers Azerbaijan. Another journalist for the station was abducted on a Baku street on Wednesday and questioned for several hours by plain clothes officers, Reporters Without Borders said.

Dissent is kept under strict control in Azerbaijan and is often met with a tough government response.

Rights groups say the government of the oil-rich Caucasus nation has stepped up pressure on critical journalists and political opponents since President Ilham Aliyev's election for a third term in 2013.

On September 2, Azerbaijan sentenced the country's most prominent critical journalist and anti-graft campaigner Khadija Ismayilova to seven-and-a-half years in prison on corruption charges she denounced as trumped-up.

Aliyev, who came to power strongly denies rights abuses, and recently threatened to "revise" relations with the European Union over criticism on the issue.

He took over in 2003 after the death of his father Heydar Aliyev, a former KGB officer and communist-era leader who had ruled newly independent Azerbaijan with an iron fist since 1993.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 18 Eylül 2015, 17:40